In a practice that officials acknowledge has been ongoing for more than a year now, cops in Texas are setting up roadside checkpoints and photographing “suspects”, citing gang culture as a justification.
The McAllen Monitor reports that the South Texas Civil Rights Project, based in Alamo, has taken up issue with the San Juan Police Department, noting that “what they’re doing could be unconstitutional.”
“Police have always been pressing against restrictions the Constitution puts on protecting rights of individuals.” STCRP lawyer Joseph Martin said in response to the increase in the use of checkpoints.
“Passengers are questioned and, in certain instances, individuals are asked by investigators to voluntarily submit to having photographs taken of their gang-affiliated tattoos. The information is then vetted for inclusion in a state database.” reports the Monitor.
While police claim that the checkpoints are limited and do not target innocent people, the report states that “most cars attempting to pass through are stopped.”
Police have also admitted that while the checkpoints are part of a larger effort to curtail gang activity, they are also being used to perform checks for insurance, seatbelts and driver’s licenses.
The STCRP notes that the checkpoint activity most likely represents a violation of the Fourth Amendment, and constitutes unreasonable search and seizure.